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DIRECTORY

Best Independent Publishers in 2024

Showing 37 indie publishers that match your search.

Publisher of: Fiction and Nonfiction

Named after the left-hand page, this left-leaning publisher has been furnishing reading material for prospective revolutionaries since 1970. No wonder Harper’s hailed it as “Anglo-America’s preeminent radical press.” They lean more literary theory than literary fiction, offering sharp, syllabus-ready books across the full slate of humanities and social science disciplines, from Anthropology to Race and Ethnicity. Though many of their writers belong to the professoriate, Verso Books isn’t a university press. Their nonfiction, though intellectually rigorous, tends to be snappier than your usual academic fare.

🔥 Hit title: Females: A Concern by Andrea Long Chu

⭐️ Best known for: Biography, History, Journalism

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Book Proposals. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, and Short Fiction

Founded in 2014, this LA-based publisher is relatively young. But it’s already assembled a formidable stable of talent: rising star Esmé Weijun Wang shares shelf space with Booker, Pulitzer, and Philip K Dick Prize winners. Many of their titles are multicultural family dramas, full of complex relationships and pitch-perfect characterization. However, their catalogue ranges beyond literary fiction to embrace highbrow speculative fiction, collections of journalism, and even self-help books.

🔥 Hit title: The Border of Paradise by Esmé Weijun Wang

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Queries. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Short Fiction

This Massachusetts-based press prides itself on the high production value of its titles, which range from novels and creative nonfiction to poetry. They treat their books as art objects — “a joy,” in the press’s own words, “to hold as well as read.” Crack open those impeccably printed pages, and you’ll find artful language, unsurpassed lyricism, and playful experimentation with form, no matter what the genre. The bulk of Tupelo Press's catalogue consists of poetry collections, although they also publish literary fiction and creative nonfiction.

🔥 Hit title: Good Bones by Maggie Smith

⭐️ Best known for: Poetry Collections

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Contest Entries. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction and Nonfiction

Quirk Books is best known for publishing Seth Grahame-Smith’s brilliant decision to mash up Regency romance and B-movie horror, a title that ultimately became an NYT bestseller — not to mention a Lily James-led film. True to its name, this Philly-based indie press injects a whole lot of whimsy into the literary world. Quirk’s publishing program is unabashedly reader-centric, aiming to produce “objects of delight and desire”. Its titles — from humorous essays on celebrity to LGBT-affirming picture books — are clever, irreverent, and eminently giftable.

🔥 Hit title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

⭐️ Best known for: How-To Guides, Humor, Science Fiction & Fantasy, YA

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Book Proposals, Full Manuscripts. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction

Europa Editions' parent company, Edizione E/O, grew out of a failed venture by Italian couple Sandro Ferri and Sandra Ozzala : a bookstore where thinkers with opposing views could meet for peaceful dialogue. When the political discord proved too daunting for polite reading-room tête-à-têtes, the Ferris, now married, pivoted to publishing. Their American publishing house, Europa Editions, is one of the US’s top publishers of fiction in translation, and they’ve produced more than a few NYT bestsellers, including Elena Ferrante's celebrated Neapolitan Novels. (And yes, they've met the mysterious, pseudonymous author face to face.)

🔥 Hit title: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, and Short Fiction

Catapult Books may have been founded in 2015, but they’ve made a huge impact on the literary scene in just a few years. In fact, they’ve made such a big splash that they managed to acquire an older indie publisher, Counterpoint Press, back in 2016. Post-merger, Catapult’s small, impeccably curated catalog — mostly memoir and literary fiction — continues to exemplify quality over quantity.

🔥 Hit title: All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction, Memoir

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Fiction and Nonfiction

Forest Avenue Press focuses on literary fiction, occasionally dipping their toes into memoir as well. Regardless of genre, they aim to publish work animated by joy: not necessarily stories with happy endings, but work that shows off the author’s capacity for humor and freewheeling imagination. As a result, their catalogue abounds with oddball books, each with a broad palette of literary influences. An author-focused press with a relatively small stable of talent, Forest Avenue lavishes more time and money on marketing each title than your typical indie publisher.

🔥 Hit title: Queen of Spades by Michael Shou-Yung Shum

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Full Manuscripts. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry

Two New York-based creatives — sculptor Valerie Merians and writer Dennis Loy Johnson — founded Melville House in the aftermath of 9/11. Their inaugural title was a poetry anthology collection thoughtful, devastating responses to the attacks from the likes of Pulitzer winners and New York State poets. These days, Melville House continues to engage with both politics and high art. Their nonfiction titles tackle tough issues like CIA torture and presidential malfeasance, while their fiction program elevates emerging talents and underrated international writers — voices overlooked by corporate publishing.

🔥 Hit title: Cat Out of Hell by Lynne Truss

⭐️ Best known for: Journalism, Literary Fiction

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Nonfiction, Fiction, and Short Fiction

This micro-press releases no more than four books a year. But their tightly curated list has earned them a reputation for producing fiction and nonfiction that’s as accessible as it is groundbreaking. Future Tense Books’ catalogue might be boundary-pushing, but this publisher’s aesthetic is more DIY than avant-garde. They're equally at home with wry short story collections and raw, unprententious memoirs that delve into darkness head-on.

🔥 Hit title: Excavation by Wendy C. Ortiz

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction, Memoirs

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Poetry and Short Fiction

Founded in 1976, BOA Editions focuses on poetry. Though they publish fewer than 20 books a year, their editors are discerning enough to sniff out plenty of prizewinners. BOA’s roster includes decorated — and phenomenally popular — poets like National Book Award finalist Lucille Clifton and Naomi Shihab Nye, the first Arab American to be named the Young People’s Poet Laureate. But BOA also looks beyond verse, running several contests for short fiction writers, as well as poets seeking publication.

🔥 Hit title: Blessing the Boats by Lucille Clifton

⭐️ Best known for: Poetry Collections

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Contest Entries. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction and Short Fiction

This Manhattan-based press releases 90 books a year, making it relatively big for an indie publisher. It’s especially well-known among mystery connoisseurs for its Soho Crime imprint, which specializes in top-notch thrillers with a strong sense of place, a bit like traditional detective fiction crossed with travelogue. Whether it takes place in Denmark or Thailand, a Soho Crime title will set the scene so vividly you’ll feel you’re walking alongside the detective down those minutely rendered streets. Soho also publishes YA through Soho Teen and literary fiction through Soho Press proper.

🔥 Hit title: The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura and Satoko Izumo (translator)

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction, Mysteries, YA

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Full Manuscripts. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Short Fiction

LA-based Rare Bird Books has a strong affinity for edgy, whip-smart titles on sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll: think candid sex worker memoirs and deep dives into the London music scene of the ‘70s. Besides nonfiction, Rare Bird widely publishes a number of genres over its various imprints. California Coldblood, for instance, presides over the press’s speculative fiction titles, while Barnacle Books takes care of crime fiction. As a whole, their titles are both progressive and compulsively readable, no matter if it’s PG-friendly or NSFW.

🔥 Hit title: Camgirl by Isa Mazzei

⭐️ Best known for: Memoir, Mysteries, Science Fiction & Fantasy

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? No

Publisher of: Nonfiction and Fiction

Independent presses tend to focus on fiction and poetry, but Feral House breaks the mold. Look through their list of publishing topics, and you’ll see post-apocalyptic survival guides under Self-Reliance and gutsy exposés of government corruption under Realpolitik. Needless to say, this isn’t the kind of small press that publishes highbrow short story collections or thoughtful, MFA-inflected novels. Their countercultural sensibility lends itself instead to bold nonfiction (or, occasionally, historical fiction) by unabashed firebrands.

🔥 Hit title: Nightmare of Ecstasy by Rudolph Grey

⭐️ Best known for: Biography, How-To Guides, Journalism

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Manuscript Submission. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Short Fiction

Founded in 1974, Graywolf Press is a jewel among independent publishers. The 35 or so titles it releases every year are regularly showered with laurels, from rave NYT reviews to “best of the year” nods. It’s no exaggeration to call Graywolf one of the top publishing houses of any size, despite its relatively modest, $4 million annual budget. No wonder established writers, who have the name recognition to court the Big 5, often opt to stick with this storied small press instead.

🔥 Hit title: Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

⭐️ Best known for: Literary Fiction, Memoirs

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Contest Entries. View guidelines →

Publisher of: Fiction and Nonfiction

EnvelopeBooks is a new independent publishing house founded in the summer of 2020. An offshoot of Booklaunch, a quarterly books and publishing freesheet that makes its way to 50,000 homes per issue, the EnvelopeBooks imprint is dedicated to working with authors to produce high-quality books.

💌 Accepts unagented submissions? Yes, in the form of Full Manuscripts. View guidelines →

What is an independent publisher?

An independent publisher is a publisher not affiliated with any big corporations or conglomerates — meaning they operate independently. Think of them as the small businesses of the publishing world: they’re like chic local boutiques compared to the Macy’s and Nordstroms of the Big 5. Indie presses also tend to be small presses, an industry term for publishers making less than $50 million annually.

Independent publishers vs. self-publishers

There’s plenty to ruminate on when it comes to the distinction between indie publishing and self-publishing, but independent publishers are quite different from self-publishers. In a nutshell, indie presses operate on a far smaller scale than the billion-dollar publishing juggernauts, but they still fall under the umbrella of traditional publishing.

Resources for submitting to independent publishers in 2024

Not all independent publishers take unagented submissions, but many of them do, allowing you to cut out the middleman and make your writerly dreams come true all on your own. 

Of course, to make this happen, you'll have to be your project's best advocate. That means writing the best book you can, of course, but you shouldn't stop there — you'll have to study your target press's submissions guidelines and let them guide your next move.

Will you need to craft a killer book proposal, or brush up on your querying technique? Either way, we've got you covered. To give you a push on your path to indie publisher stardom, we've compiled some resources for putting together the perfect submission.

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Reedsy | Editorial Assessment scientist | 2023-10

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